Suspect in fatal Riverside CHP shootout had a criminal record, but widow says he wasnt a monster – Press-Enterprise

Suspect in fatal Riverside CHP shootout had a criminal record, but widow says he wasnt a monster - Press-Enterprise
Police search for motive in long and horrific gun battle near California freeway
A  man suspected of gunning down a California Highway Patrol officer in a freeway shootout in Riverside was on the phone with his wife moments before the killing, telling her he didn’t want to go to jail because that would mean he couldn’t support her or the eight children they raised together, she said in an interview Tuesday, Aug. 13.

Aaron Luther of Beaumont called his wife, McKenzie Luther, shortly after the CHP pulled him over Monday, saying he had been driving alone in the carpool lane with an expired license and no registration — and with a rifle he couldn’t legally own because of his felony record, she said. He told her they planned to impound the car and he needed a ride, she said.

All of this on a very busy street during Monday early evening rush hour, when Moye was conducting what some would call a  'routine'  traffic stop, but which is boss with the Highway Patrol W.A. Dance reminded us today, there is no such thing as 'routine' when it comes to traffic stops.  It's incredible that no one else was hit with all those bullets flying around, including Hayes.

She was just pulling off the 215 Freeway near Eastridge and Eucalyptus avenues when she heard the “pop pop pop” of bullets, she said. One flew through the windshield of the car she was driving with her children, said McKenzie Luther, who has scratches and a black eye that she said came from the shootout.

Hayes captured several minutes of gunfire that ultimately would take the life of CHP officer Andre Moye, watching the suspect with a rifle firing round after round at police, their vehicles, anything that was moving , 'At first a lot of the effort was going towards rescuing the downed officer' he told us today, then 'It was like it was out of a movie.'

Aaron Luther, 49, is accused of pulling out a large rifle and shooting at officers from the CHP and other agencies. Authorities say he killed Officer Andre Moye Jr. and wounded two others before police shot him to death.

She’s not sure what prompted him to grab the rifle. Despite wanting to support the family, he was depressed, she said.

Williams Hayes has shot a lot of dramatic and even dangerous video as a freelance cameraman based in Orange County, but what happened Monday evening may have been the most frightening moments as a professional. 

“Maybe it was suicide by cop,” she said, crying. “He wasn’t out to kill cops. … I’m so sorry for the officer (who Luther killed). I know his family is going through the same thing I am.”

Williams Hayes has shot a lot of dramatic and even dangerous video as a freelance cameraman based in Orange County, but what happened Tuesday evening may have been the most frightening moments as a professional.

She pushed back against a statement by Aaron Luther’s father, Dennis Luther, in which he said the couple was facing marital problems.

Unfortunately it was no movie, Moye was dead, as is the gunman, and another CHP officer are still hospitalized, shot in the lower body, expected to recover but with a very uncertain future.  

“We’ve been together 14 years — of course we have problems,” she said, sitting on the porch of the Beaumont home they shared, next to a front door with a ripped screen. “He told me the night before he loved me. He loved our kids.”

The incident that occurred at about 5:30 p.m. when a CHP officer made a traffic stop on a white GMC pickup truck. CHP officials said that at one point, the CHP officer determined the vehicle would be impounded and called for a tow truck, but while he was filling out paperwork, the suspect went inside his vehicle, took out an unknown caliber rifle and opened fire.

Two of her children, who range in age from 2 to 24, are biologically his, but he loved and supported all of them, she said.

He liked playing paintball with them when his knees allowed it, and she knew he had guns, but didn’t know what kind, she said. Police have described the weapon used in the shooting only as a rifle.

Violent felon who killed California Highway Patrol officer wasnt a monster, his widow insists

His knees hurt, making construction work difficult, but he’d just gotten a new job at Malcolm Drilling in Irwindale, she said. Malcolm Drilling confirmed he’d been hired.

The officer was struck but was able to radio for help, investigators said. Three other CHP officers arrived on scene and immediately engaged the suspect in gunfire. Law enforcement officials from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and the Riverside Police Department also responded to the scene.

McKenzie Luther said her husband was not a member of the Vagos motorcycle gang, as the Los Angeles Times reported earlier. The Times later reported that, while investigators had initially thought he had ties, federal experts familiar with the Vagos say he is not a member.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A shooting broke out Monday evening between a suspect and California Highway Patrol officers in the area of Eastridge Avenue and the southbound 215 Freeway in Riverside that ended with a CHP officer losing his life, the suspect being killed, and two other officers hurt.

Man whose truck was being impounded kills California officer before being shot to death

She added he was not a racist. He did what he had to in prison, where “the whites are with the whites and the Mexicans are with the Mexicans,” but he was friendly with Latinos, including her Latino children, she said.

Video from the scene showed one officer being rescued by other officers and dragged to the safety of a police cruiser where he was presumably taken to a hospital. A second CHP officer was seen lying near the suspect's vehicle and was also rescued and airlifted to the hospital.

“He wasn’t a monster,” she said. “People should know — I think it was random and I’m so sorry. So sorry.”

A shooting broke out Monday evening between a suspect and California Highway Patrol officers in the area of Eastridge Avenue and the southbound 215 Freeway in Riverside that ended with a CHP officer losing his life, the suspect being killed, and two other officers hurt.

Dennis Luther said his son had been in mental and physical pain as he struggled with his marriage and his ability to earn a living.

The family of the fallen officer spoke with Fox 11's Hailey Winslow and identified the 34-year-old CHP officer as Andre Moye. They said he had been working at CHP for four years. He is survived by his wife.

He felt like his life was being taken away from him, Dennis said outside his Jurupa Valley home Tuesday.

The video also showed the suspect lying incapacitated in front of a white pickup truck with a camper shell as officers and Sheriff's deputies continued converging at the scene.

Aaron Luthers life, which began spiraling downward with the use of illegal drugs as a teen, also ended Tuesday when officers fired back.

SkyFOX aerial footage revealed one CHP vehicle with the driver's side window blown out from gunfire. A second was riddled with bullets on its windshield.

Luther was paroled from state prison in 2004 after serving about 10 years of a 12-year sentence for attempted second-degree murder with an enhancement for the use of a firearm, first-degree burglary and second-degree burglary in Los Angeles County, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was discharged from parole in 2007, according to the department.

Two civilians were also injured in Monday's gun battle but their wounds were described as superficial, according to CHP.

Video: Officer, suspect die in traffic stop shootout l ABC News

West Covina police said he confronted them during the incident that resulted in the 12-year sentence, and he was charged with assault on a peace officer. He was not sentenced on that charge.

He was charged with multiple felonies in San Bernardino County and pleaded no contest in 2010 to assault with a deadly weapon, the records show.

The Latest: Slain California officer had dream job

His father said he got his son work in construction, building bridges. But the pain in both knees made it difficult to work.

Video: Police investigating motive in deadly rush hour traffic stop gun battle

Its rough, rough work and being crippled, its hard. He couldnt hardly earn a living any more. He was in a lot of pain, said Dennis Luther, 71. Ive had both knees replaced. I know what he was feeling.

I think he couldnt cope with his marital problems, he added. But the children were everything to him.

Gunmans motive unknown in deadly Riverside shootout

Aaron Luther was a top-notch skateboarder growing up in Covina and knew all the stars, including legend Tony Hawk. But he began using speed, his father said.

No one deserves what happened to them, Luther said. And if (Aaron) went and did that, he got what he deserved. You dont go doing that kind of stuff and expect to walk home. He obviously lost it somehow or another. I wished he would have called me. I didnt get that opportunity.

“We’re standing behind law enforcement,” Dennis Luther said in an interview with KTLA. “I sent a prayer for the police before I did for my son. …

“I’m reminiscing now about when he was 8 years old, when I bought him his first skateboard,” the father said.

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Suspect In Riverside Murder Of CHP Officer Identified As Convicted Felon Aaron Luther

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Aaron Luther, a convicted felon, was named by authorities as the gunman who shot and killed a CHP officer and wounded two others after the officer pulled him over in Riverside.

Cellphone video captures deadly officer-involved shooting in Riverside

Extremely disturbing video footage emerged from a citizen who captured the suspect walking toward police with a rifle. You can see some of the videos to emerge later in this article, but be aware that they are troubling.

CHIP Commissioner Warren Stanley identified the deceased officer as Andre Moye. “I am devastated by the tragedy that unfolded earlier in Riverside. Tonight, I mourn the loss of one of our own, CHP Officer Andre Moye, who was killed during a shootout following a traffic stop. Prayers go out to all, including the responding officers injured in the shooting,” he wrote.

Video: Shootout Leaves CHP Officer Dead, 2 Others Wounded

In a press conference on the shooting, Asst. Chief Scott Parker of the CHP, said that the gun battle broke out at 5:37 p.m. on August 12, 2019.

Video: Shootout Leaves CHP Officer Dead, 2 Others Wounded

“We had a CHP officer make a traffic stop on a white GMC pickup truck,” he said. “The officer at some point during the traffic stop determined he was going to impound the subject’s vehicle. He called for a tow truck and was filling out the necessary paperwork.”

Video: Shootout Leaves CHP Officer Dead, 2 Others Wounded

Tragedy Involving Officer with California Highway Patrol: Bullets Flew Through Windows

The suspect entered his vehicle, pulled out an unknown caliber rifle, and “he engaged our officer with multiple gunshots,” said Parker.

Witness video shows the gunman shooting a high powered rifle at police 👮🏽‍♀️ “ #Riverside #CHP #Kcal9 #KFI #CNN #NBC #Twitter #PoliceNews #LAPD #LA pic.twitter.com/GSjm1yxVkd

The officer was struck but was able to broadcast that he needed assistance. Multiple agencies responded to the call for assistance.

Luther’s dad, Dennis Luther, told KABC-TV that Aaron Luther, 49, “was having physical and marital troubles” but said he didn’t know what caused his son to take the actions he did.

“It’s hard,” he said to the television station. “I love him. And I’m sorry for the policeman.”

Aaron Luther had a criminal history; he spent 10 years in prison for attempted murder, ABC 7 reported. He also served time for assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.

That’s not the end of his rap sheet, though. The Los Angeles Times listed these past offenses for Luther: “peace, vandalism, battery, stalking, unlawful possession of a firearm, assault with a deadly weapon and corporal injury on a spouse.”

The next officers on scene were CHP officers. The first two were immediately engaged with gunfire by the suspect. “Our officers returned fire,” said Parker.

“Both of those officers were struck by the suspect’s firing at them. One of them received major injuries and is in critical condition. He was transported to the hospital. The other officer received minor injuries,” he said.

A fourth CHP officer arrived and engaged the suspect with gunfire. The suspect returned fire, said Parker.

There are conflicting reports about whether he was a member of the Vagos motorcycle gang, according to The Los Angeles Times. The newspaper reported that local investigators thought he was, but federal experts say he wasn’t.

According to Parker, responding officers “ultimately engaged the suspect with gunfire and the suspect was struck” and “he did succumb to his injuries at the scene.”

The first officer on scene, who made the initial traffic stop, was transported to a hospital and pronounced deceased “as a result of the gunfire from the suspect,” said Parker.

Sergio Diaz, the chief of the Riverside PD, said the incident involved a large number of law enforcement officers. “It was a long and horrific gun battle and it resulted in a very extensive crime scene,” Diaz said.

The gun battle occurred within the City of Riverside, so the Riverside police are the primary investigating agency.

CA Highway Patrol Officer Killed During Traffic Stop: Police

Diaz said police don’t know the suspect’s “affiliations,” his motive, where he was coming from or going to. Luther does not appear to have any obvious social media presence.

An unbelievably upsetting night here in Riverside. 1 CHP officer killed, 2 more injured after a man shot them with an assault style rifle during a traffic stop. An innocent family caught in the crossfire & saved by a stranger. Developing story on #KCAL9 @ 10 & @CBSLA at 11 pic.twitter.com/litl2Zs5HT

According to ABC 7, Luther’s family members identified him as “a father of two from Beaumont in his late 40s.” He also had a stepson, and Dennis Luther described him as devoted to them.

California police officer killed, 2 others hurt in shootout near freeway

Citizens were imperiled by the shooting. According to the Los Angeles Times, Jennifer Moctezuma, 31, of Moreno Valley reported that a bullet “flew through her front windshield.”

Luther’s rifle was recovered. The Associated Press described it as “What appeared to be an assault-style rifle.”

The cellphone video, which you can watch above, starts with a woman saying, “Oh, there’s a shooting right now.” Her voice becomes more urgent as you see a man, identified by the television station as Aaron Luther, walk toward a police vehicle with what appears to be a large weapon.

“Oh my God, there’s a guy with a f*cking rifle,” the citizen says. “Oh my God…He’s not a cop.”

The gunman continues to approach the police vehicle. The woman who shot the video had pulled over to the side of the road, according to 10News.


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